Q: Why do we have a brain? A: To Move.

Feb 9, 2014 | Feldenkrais

Recently, I have come across a number of articles that argue that the main reason we have a brain is to move.

The first is a Ted talk by Daniel Wolpert.  He asserts that there is one and only one reason that we have brains: that is to produce adaptable, complex movements.  Movement is the only way to effect the world around you. For example, think of communication: speech, gestures, etc. They are all generated through contraction of your muscles.  Wolpert argues that controlling movement is extraordinarily difficult. For example, though we can build machines to solve problems like chess, we have yet to build robots that are as dexterous as a five year old.

This is similar to a recent quote I read by Roger Sperry, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Medicine: “Better than 90 percent of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body in its gravitational field. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy available for thinking, metabolism and healing.”

Finally, there is a Psychology Today article by Bruce Hood that also argues that we have a brain to move. It says: Of the estimated 86-100 billion, around 80 percent are to be found in the cerebellum, the bulbous structure at the base of the brain at the back that controls our movements.

Whether it is 80% or 90% of our brain dedicated to movement doesn’t really matter. Either way, it is a lot. This argues for the importance of the Feldenkrais® Method. The more skillful we get at movement, the better we use our brain. As Sperry points out, the more energy we have available for other things like thinking, metabolism, and healing.